CBC: "How Should We Die", A Conversation with Dr. Balfour

How Should We Die, A Conversation with Dr. Balfour Mount
Dr. Balfour Mount joined us for a poignant conversation about death and dying with host Michael Enright.

Since September, a committee of the Quebec National Assembly has been hearing witnesses, taking submissions, collecting studies and statistics on the question of Canada's laws on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The hearings are a response to a report from the Quebec College of Physicians in the fall of 2009 which asked the government to examine the laws and regulations on Doctors and Death, saying that the Doctors weren't endorsing any particular regime but were "concerned with promoting appropriate fare for end-of-life patients that could include all options".

Pondering what's appropriate for end of life patients has been the work of Dr. Balfour Mount since the early 1970s. In a study he did at the time on terminally ill patients and their families, he found that the care provided was inadequate across all services. And he set out to remedy that.

He established North America's first integrated hospice ...he coined the term palliative care...he originated the Biennial Congress in Care of the Dying...and he was the founding director of the Palliative Care Division of the Department of Oncology at McGill University and the accomplishments and honours could go on.

And Balfour Mount doesn't just talk the talk - he's been diagnosed with Cancer 3 times...survived a plane crash...watched more people die than he cares to count and to this day, struggles with the question... how should we die.

Because this is a Quebec debate, you may wish to revisit The Barbarian Invasions, by Denys Arcand

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